Since 2018, Ugandans using social media channels have been required to pay a daily tax of UGX 200 to use mobile communication apps including Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging and voice communication apps like WhatsApp.
Tonight (midnight) everyone will start accessing social media sites without paying the Over The Top (OTT) tax or using encrypted connections such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
This comes after the government abolished the UGX. 200 per day OTT tax and imposed a 12 percent tax on Internet data in the FY 2021/22, which also starts on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
In a bid for government to raise revenues and curb online gossip; there was a decline in the number of internet users, with failed revenue targets, and social unrest by the year 2019 led by human rights activists and opposition politicians.
The Uganda Revenue Authority, which had set a goal of collecting UGX 284 billion ($77.8 million) from the tax was only able to collect ($13.5 million) by 2019.
According to the government statistics by the Uganda Communications Commission and Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, more than 8 million of the country’s 20 million internet subscribers were not paying the fees and the government has launched a new tax which is 12% on internet data starting the next financial year.
Government says that the new arrangement will not interfere with data used for provision of medical and education services.